Archive | Offshore

The big game

Posted on 20 January 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Barcelona World Race] From sailing the length of the Atlantic virtually neck and neck, this morning the Barcelona World Race leaders were nearly 400 miles apart, after second-placed Neutrogena split from current leaders Cheminées Poujoulat, gybing south in search of new weather systems and stronger westerly breezes.

This bold tactical move by Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz is likely to see the two leading boats diverge further. Speaking earlier today Altadill was confident in his decision and their chances of making a significant gain by the time they reach the Cape of Good Hope in four or five days.

“The thing is we were in a system between the two high pressures, with a very narrow band of wind, heading downwind. And I saw the possibility to change the system and go more south, because the thing with the system that we were in is that you cannot go south – you’d need a shift from the wind to go more south.

“So I decided to take the risk – well it’s not really a risk – and change the system, take the big low that’s coming from the south side of where we were. And I think then it was safer to take this new system than to stay in the other one, because you’re committed to keep going, only sailing east and not gaining south, so I think it’s a little bit of a gain long-term.”

However, once Neutrogena reaches the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, they may face a punishing series of gybes in order to make the necessary miles to the east. They are expected to arrive at the Cape of Good Hope in four to five days.

Taking no prisoners
Along with the bold tactical move, Altadill reported in this morning’s video conference that they were sailing Neutrogena at “110 percent”. Currently their pedal-to-the-metal approach appears to be paying off – this morning Neutrogena was the fastest boat in the fleet, averaging over 20 knots over a 6-hour period and reducing Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam’s lead by 30 miles since 0500am, despite the substantial separation between the two boats.
This section of the Atlantic is renowned for record-setting speeds – it was here that Jean-Pierre Dick and Loïck Peyron set a new 24-hour speed record in the Barcelona World Race four years ago, covering 506.35 nautical miles at an average pace of 21.1 knots.

Race meteorologist Marcel van Triest explains that the combination of powerful low pressure systems and strong westerly winds – but moderate waves – makes this South Atlantic zone a sailing fast-lane: “The waves are a consequence of ‘fetch’, which is how many square kilometres or square miles the wind blows, the time it has blown there and the intensity of the wind. If you’re on the leading edge, if you’re in front of one of those big lows, the waves haven’t had time to build up yet and then you’ve got fairly flat water with lots of wind, and that’s where you can beat those 24 hour distance records.”

Third placed GAES Centros Auditivos had also gybed south, but is this afternoon following an easterly route, around 250 miles behind Cheminées Poujoulat.

Stubborn Helena
Things are very different for the mid-fleet boats, with Renault Captur, We Are Water and One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton still contending with the light winds zone of the St Helena high. This trio may be shedding miles to the leaders, but look set to develop an intriguing contest of their own. They are currently separated by around 450 miles west-to-east, with Renault Captur on the east in fourth enduring the lightest, most unstable breezes, and One Planet One Ocean to the west, around 370 miles off the coast of Brazil, consistently around 3 knots faster.

Gaining ground from the north is Spirit of Hungary, with Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman banking miles in the trade wind conditions with solid 13-14 knot boat speeds. However, Fa spoke today of how conscious he was that such gains can be temporary: “Now we are progressing very well because we are still sailing in the trade winds and the guys ahead are in different conditions, they have much less wind, and it’s a very complicated developing situation.

“As long as we are here and they are there we will make a little bit of a gain on them, but in a couple of days when we’ll be there also, it will be also complicated for us, so it’s a very difficult situation right now. How much can we keep from this gain and how much will we give back later? You never know, it is a kind of gambling. We study the weather all the time.”

Provisional rankings at 1400hrs UTC Tuesday 20th January 2015

Cheminées Poujoulat (B. Stamm – J. Le Cam) at 19,378.7 miles to the finish
Neutrogena (G. Altadill – J. Muñoz) + 130.5 miles to leader
GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella – G. Marín) + 248.1 miles to leader
Renault Captur (J. Riechers – S. Audigane) + 642.8 miles to leader
We Are Water (B. Garcia – W. Garcia) + 900.3 miles to leader
One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert – D. Costa) + 1138.9 miles to leader
Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa – C. Colman) + 1353.1 miles to leader
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson – P. Ribes)

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Alex and Pepe are back on dry land

Posted on 19 January 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Alex Thomson Racing] Alex and Pepe onboard HUGO BOSS are back on land after arriving safely in Salvador de Bahia. Three and a half days since the boat dismasted, Alex & Pepe, with the help of the Alex Thomson Racing Team shore crew; Rob Hopper and Will Jackson have secured the boat safely in a marina in Salvador de Bahia. Rob and Will took supplies and fuel to HUGO BOSS as she approached the Brazilian coast, which the yacht needed to safely reach shore. Once on shore, Alex and Pepe ate a fresh meal for the first time in 2 weeks, and shook off their sea legs. Both the skippers are well and looking forward to returning home to their families and to the rest of the year ahead.

Despite the disappointment and shock of the dismasting, Alex and Pepe, together with the ATR team led by CEO Stew Hosford and Operations Manager Ross Daniel worked together cohesively and professionally, reacting quickly to safely secure the skippers and boat back to land, in what was a complex and challenging situation.

Now on land, Alex, Pepe and the team will turn their focus on to the rest of this year’s schedule, repairing the boat, finishing the build of and launching the new HUGO BOSS which will compete in the TJV and B2B race later this year.

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Challenge not over yet for Thomson and Ribes

Posted on 16 January 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Alex Thomson Racing] Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes started the Barcelona World Race perfectly, with two race records broken: Barcelona to the Straits of Gibraltar and from Barcelona to the Equator. HUGO BOSS set out to race 26,000 miles around the world, with Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes one of the favourite teams to win the race.

The boat was leading the eight boat Barcelona World Race fleet by 60 nautical miles when disaster struck. She was dismasted at 21:02GMT on Wednesday evening in moderate conditions. Speaking from the South Atlantic yesterday whilst motoring towards Salvador, Brazil, Thomson said “At about 9pm Pepe and I were doing a sail change in 18 knots of wind. As we dropped one of our headsails the furler broke and flew into the air. For a few seconds the mast hovered, before falling backwards and into the water. Pepe reacted quickly and we cut the rest away, losing the mast, boom and rigging. Of course we are devastated and disappointed. As offshore ocean racing sailors this is a peril of our sport, but it is still painful. Our aim now is to try and get to land, assess and analyse the problem and learn from this, but we will remain ever determined and resilient to come back stronger and succeed.”

The IMOCA 60 is currently motoring towards the coastline of South America. Thomson and Ribes have put together a jury rig and are heading straight towards Salvador. The Alex Thomson Racing technical team are on route to Brazil to meet the boat. The support team will have to board a rescue craft to carry provisions and supplies as the engine consumes the vessels limited emergency fuel reserve. This operation will take between 48 – 72 hours to complete but first the Skippers will have to face the elements and wait for support to arrive before coming ashore.

Stewart Hosford, Managing Director of the Alex Thomson Racing Team said “The boat has lost the mast and our team is out of the race – Alex and Pepe are safe from the initial incident but they are still 300 miles off the coast of Brazil in a yacht with no mast, so there is more work to do to secure the boys safety and that of the boat. We will run a full enquiry into why the mechanical part failed on the boat and we will share the findings from that. We have a challenge on our hands right now, but if this had happened in the deep Southern Ocean then we could have been dealing with a major life threatening situation.”

The determination and strength of character Thomson and Ribes have displayed is unwavering. Winning is of course the final goal for any racing team but the true measure is the drive Thomson and Ribes have displayed whilst taking part in one of the most extreme races on the planet.

Alex Thomson Racing are grateful to all the support from their sponsor and fans.

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Hugo Boss Dismasted

Posted on 15 January 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Barcelona World Race] Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes, skippers of the IMOCA 60 HUGO BOSS, which was leading the Barcelona World Race, this evening lost their mast overboard at 21.02 GMT. The yacht was reaching in moderate conditions when there is reported to have been a rigging failure and the mast fell overboard and broke.

Briton Thomson, 40, and Spaniard Ribes, 43 will now cease racing in the Barcelona World Race 2014 -2015. The skippers and the shore team are currently evaluating how to get the boat to the nearest landfall, which is likely to be Salvador de Bahia in Brazil which is a significant distance from the boat’s current position.

Stewart Hosford Managing Director of Alex Thomson Racing said this evening ‘After such a promising start to the 2014-2015 edition of the Barcelona World Race- this has come as a great shock. We have been preparing for this race for over a year, but unfortunately in offshore racing this type of failure sometimes happens. I now just want the skippers to get to safety and to recognise that they, and the team are very upset that this has happened, and to thank our team and our partners for their support. Alex and Pepe were doing a superb job in this race and having spoken to both of them – they are devastated that this rig failure has ended their race.

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Hugo Boss breaks Barcelona-Gibraltar record

Posted on 02 January 2015 by Reporter

[Source: Barcelona World Race] Alex Thomson (GBR) and Pepe Ribes (ESP) on Hugo Boss have passed Gibraltar, crossing the Longitude 5°37W at 18H50 (CET) on 2nd January. They have set a new record time for the Barcelona to Gibraltar course of 538 nautical miles of 2 days, 5 hours, 50 minutes.

Having taken the lead on 1st Jan morning, Hugo Boss has extended their advantage. They profited from the most northerly route of the leading boats before settling into the intense routine of trying to cover their rivals, at least until they break into the Atlantic and the trade winds where their superior speed potential should give them more confidence to sail a routing for speed rather than concerning themselves with their rivals.

31/12/2014 Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Start. © Barcelona World Race 2014-15 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

31/12/2014 Barcelona World Race 2014-15, Start. © Barcelona World Race 2014-15 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Speaking for the first time this race before Mediteranian exit, Alex Thomson said that their second night at sea allowed them only snatched, brief catnaps broken by the need to gybe to stay in the best corridor of wind as they transitioned out of the fickle breezes of the Alboran Sea.

“We haven’t been able to sleep for very long, but we’ve had quite a few little naps. But the focus more than anything is just to be working as hard as we can and making as many miles as we can. We both feel pretty good to be honest, and obviously being at the front helps,” Thomson said.

And of the prospect of a first record of the race, Thomson added: “That would be great, that would be fantastic. I think both Pepe and I were both worried that we might be wallowing out here for three or four days, like it has been before, but it seems to be fairly quick so far and we’ll be delighted if we can get there and get a record. At the moment it’s looking round about just over two days – two days three hours or something like that.”

Hugo Boss is the former Virbac-Paprec 3, a VPLP/Verdier IMOCA design launched in 2010, and the boat which set the previous Barcelona-Gibraltar record time, skippered by Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA) and Loick Peyron (FRA) in the 2010-2011 Barcelona World Race at 3 days, 7 hours, 55 minutes.

01/01/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, First Day at Sea. © Barcelona World Race 2014-15 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

01/01/2015, Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, First Day at Sea. © Barcelona World Race 2014-15 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Following Alex Thomson and Pepe Ribes their two nearest rivals have also passed into the Gibraltar Straits. Guillermo Altadill (ESP) and José Muñoz (CHI) on Neutrogena, who have moved from fourth to second over the past 24 hours, were next to pass the landmark, after 2 days, 6 hours and 33 minutes of sailing. They were followed by Cheminées Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam), now in third after taking a more southerly option on the approach to ‘the Rock’, who crossed at 20.59 (CET). Less than 20 miles still remains between this leading trio.

Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, First Day at Sea, GAES Centros Auditivos,© Barcelona World Race 2014-15 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Barcelona (ESP), Barcelona World Race 2014-15, First Day at Sea, GAES Centros Auditivos,© Barcelona World Race 2014-15 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

GAES Centros Auditivos (Anna Corbella and Gerard Marín) are now in fourth, but still closely within touch, just 25 miles behind first-placed Hugo Boss, and will also shortly pass Gibraltar and the gateway into the Atlantic.

While this leading quartet have all averaged 7-8 knots over the past 24 hours, despite a tricky night with variable winds, the remainder of the fleet have found the Alboran Sea much less forgiving. In fifth place, Renault Captur are now 100 miles behind the leader, and fighting hard to regain miles lost on the first evening by diving south to the Moroccan coast in search of better breeze.

One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton look to be following a similar tactic in sixth. We Are Water has struggled to top 5 knots in the high pressure zone, and are currently south of Almeria, while Nandor Fa (HUN) and Conrad Colman (NZL) on Spirit of Hungary reported exceptionally frustrating conditions to the north east of the fleet, averaging around 2.5 knots over the past 24 hours in eighth place.

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Sun and Sons Shine on Light Winds Barcelona World Race Start

Posted on 31 December 2014 by Reporter

[Source: Barcelona World Race] With 23,450 miles to sail, of course the early advantage to the British-Spanish duo might only appear to be psychological and within the first hour of racing they found themselves snared by the combination of very calm winds and wash from the sizeable spectator fleet, and were passed by the Swiss-French pairing Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam on Cheminées Poujoulat, but the main objective for all was to ensure they stay in the lead group on what will be a tricky, challenging descent of the Mediterranean to the exit doors at the Straits of Gibraltar.

As per forecast breezes were only very light for the start, 2-6 knots. But the sun shone brightly and brought out huge crowds to the beaches of the Catalan capital. To all intents it felt less like the last day of 2014 in the depths of winter, and more like a day stolen from summer.

The warmth of the sunshine leant an almost surreal air to the emotional scenes as the 16 skippers left the Barcelona World Race dock this morning. They may be heading for some of the most feared stretches of the world’s oceans, but there was a welcome serenity as the crowds bid farewell to each of the duos. To those observers and skippers more used to the oppressive atmosphere of other winter race starts, usually contemplating Atlantic storms, it was a pleasant change.

But for all that, emotions bubbled to the surface, tugging hard at the heartstrings. Who could fail to be moved when Alex Thomson and his four-year-old son Oscar shouted ‘Good bye’ to each other across the widening gap between the pontoon and the departing 60-foot monohull? In their private world it was a beautiful toddler waving his dad off to a day at the office – even if Thomson blinked back a tear behind the Hugo Boss designer shades – but to everyone else it was a harsh reminder of the imminent three months of separation from the son whose illness precluded his participation in the last edition.

Hugo Boss team-mate Pepe Ribes’ farewell to Pepe Ribes Jr was no less touching, considering the last time he left on this race his son was only three weeks old. This time GAES Centros Auditivos’Gérard Marin’s son is only a few months old.

The biggest cheer of the morning was for Anna Corbella, the only female skipper in the race who became the first Spanish woman to sail around the world when she finished the second edition of the race in April 2011 with Briton Dee Caffari. Corbella and Gérard Marin, both local to Barcelona, have been training for two years with their GAES Centros Auditivos and harbour high hopes of a podium finish.

Their partisan fan club were, predictably, the loudest. Corbella’s smile wavered as if to crack but as the docklines came aboard, her game face was fixed and she was immediately in ‘race mode’.

When the gun sounded at 1300hrs local time (1200hrs UTC) GAES Centros Auditivos looked to have made the best start along with Hugo Boss and Renault Captur (Jorge Riechers and Sébastien Audigane), but both GAES Centros Auditivos and One Planet One Ocean Pharmaton (Aleix Gelabeirt and Didac Costa) jumped the gun and had to restart.
As well as media, family, friends and team-mates, the dock was dotted with key figures of the race including twice winner Jean-Pierre Dick, who saw off the eight boats, and Race Director Jacques Caraës, who helped many teams slip their lines. FNOB president Maite Fandos, the depute mayor of Barcelona; IMOCA President Jean Kehroas; Peter Bayer, General Manager of Open Sports Management, and the President of the Spanish Sailing Federation José Ángel Rodríguez, all joined the farewell.

Meanwhile the city of Barcelona delivered a ‘tapas menu’ of live performance featuring wind instruments, spraying water, seashells, and performance artists by the Fura dels Baus as a fitting show as the Mayor of Barcelona Xavier Trias lowered a flag on the La Dona of Mil·leni sculpture to signify the start of the race.

Winds might only have been light at the start but the skippers know the pressure is absolutely on from the start. The race start sat between two wind zones. To the east the brisk NE’ly Tramontana is a strong lure, to sail more miles to reach this corridor of breeze does represent the high risk option but with potentially the biggest reward. A fast passage to the Balearics would allow the leader(s) to hold on to this wind longest. Conversely, this breeze will fade first, potentially leaving any gamblers on this flank downwind in very gentle winds. The alternative is to sail the direct, rhumb line – or to the west of it – and wait until the NE’ly has strengthened all the way to the Spanish coast.

The overall balance between the options remained unclear. For sure there is a ‘rich get richer’ scenario for anyone who breaks through the Strait of Gibraltar first, breaching the brisk, favourable trade winds first for quick train ride south. But the greater likelihood is of a period of very light winds in the busy gateway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

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Barcelona World Race set for spectacular send off

Posted on 29 December 2014 by Reporter

[Source:Barcelona World Race] La Dona of Mil·leni of Fura dels Baus is ready to signify the start of the Barcelona World Race. This iconic sculpture by the Catalan theater group has been installed in the Plaça del Mar, a viewpoint to watch the fleet of the doublehanded round-the-world race depart this Wednesday, December 31, at 1300pm in front of the Hotel W. The show at the sea will be accompanied by a ceremony by Fura dels Baus on shore.

The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, will drive the mechanism that moves the arm of The La Dona of Mil·leni sculpture, waving a flag signal, which will kick off the circumnavigation of the globe
Actors and musicians of the Fura dels Baus will be performing within the structure with a show based on sounds that evoke the sound of the sea, while the eight boats participants in the Barcelona World Race complete a coastal race in front of Barcelona coastline, of about seven nautical miles, before heading to the Straits of Gibraltar and racing around the world.

Before the start of the race at sea, the show will begin on shore, in the Portal de la Pau, in front of the statue of Columbus. At 1000 am the boats will begin the dock-out farewell ceremony at the pontoon of the Barcelona World Race. After hugs and kisses from skippers to family and friends, boats leave the pontoons one by one, at intervals of about five minutes. The tour of the port of Barcelona by all the fleet will last approximately one hour.

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Jérémie Beyou first to register for the Vendée Globe

Posted on 18 December 2014 by Reporter

[Source: Vendee Globe] The skipper of Maître Coq was the first skipper to complete the official registration for the next non-stop solo round the world voyage. On 6th November 2016, Jérémie Beyou will be setting out from les Sables d’Olonne to compete in his third consecutive Vendée Globe. His first two attempts ended with him being forced to retire with a mast problem (in 2008/2009) and keel damage (in 2012/2013).Second in the 2013 Transat Jacques Vabre and the 2014 Route du Rhum, as well as winning the Solitaire du Figaro three times, Jérémie has clearly bounced back from these disappointments.

In 2016/2017, he will be a serious contender for a place on the podium and maybe even for the top spot… He will be competing aboard his VPLP/Verdier designed boat launched in 2010, which came second in the last edition of the Vendée Globe, when she was skippered by Armel Le Cléac’h.

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